EUGENE — In Chris Boucher’s whirlwind of a two-year Oregon career, he’s played in 58 basketball games.

In that span, Boucher transformed from a relatively unheard of junior college transfer into one of the most recognizable players in the sport — being 6-foot-10 with the leaping ability of a shooting guard will do that.

Boucher’s been profiled in USA Today. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in November.

Yet through all of this, his family has never seen him play.

That changes on Thursday when the Ducks host the Utes for the first game of Oregon’s final homestand of the year.

For the first time in his life, Boucher said, he’ll be able to look up from the court and make eye contact with his mom, Mary. She’s watched him from afar over the last two years, making sure to tune in to every Oregon broadcast made available from her home in Montreal.

But Thursday against the Utes will be something special. 

“They’ve never seen me play, ever,” Boucher said on Wednesday. “Tomorrow is going to be the first time they see me in person. They’ve seen me on TV. But being there and seeing me on the court? Never happened yet.”

Joining Boucher’s mother in Eugene will be his stepfather, his brother, sister and a coach from back home. They’ll be arriving in Eugene Thursday prior to the Ducks’ tip against the Utes to watch the final two home games of one of the more unique careers in Oregon history.

When Boucher arrived to Eugene two summers ago, it wasn’t exactly clear what the Ducks had. Boucher had been named the junior college player of the year a season prior, but with a convoluted backstory and very little organized basketball under his belt, it was hard to predict exactly what the Ducks had with Boucher.

It didn’t take Oregon long to find out.

Boucher scored 10 points, blocked five shots and hit a pair of three-pointers in his first game as an Oregon Duck. By the end of the season he would set the school’s single-season record for most blocks in a season (110) and, according to SI, became only the third major-conference player this decade to average at least 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks per 40 minutes with an offensive efficiency rating of a least 120.

He’s continued his contributions in 2016-17 while coming off the bench, averaging 12 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while swatting 64 shots on the year.

He’ll play a large role on Thursday as the Ducks look to earn the season sweep against the Utes. Oregon beat Utah 73-67 three weeks ago in Salt Lake, as Boucher scored 10 points, blocked three shots and grabbed seven rebounds. Utah has since seen its NCAA Tournament hopes deteriorate with losses at Cal and Stanford, but is hoping that a sweep of the Washington schools a week ago will lead to a late-season surge. With a 17-8 overall record, the Utes don’t find themselves in any current NCAA Tournament projections, but their 8-5 record in Pac-12 play leaves the Utes a game out of fourth in conference standings, which would earn a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament.

And right now, winning that tournament is likely Utah’s only shot of making the Big Dance.

“The focus is on Oregon, first and foremost, but that’s something that’s being talked about a little bit — trying to earn a first-round bye,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “Even by the end of this weekend, we’ll probably have a better idea if that’s an attainable goal or not. Hopefully it is.”

This is a crucial homestand for Oregon as well. The Ducks enter their final two games at Matthew Knight Arena — Oregon has won 40 straight there — a game back of Arizona and a game ahead of UCLA. With their final three games away from MKA, it will be key for the Ducks to take care of business at home before heading out on the road, where all four of their losses have come this season.

For Boucher, it will be added comfort that he’ll have some extra eyes on him this week.

“I don’t even know what to say, it came so fast,” Boucher said about his Oregon career. “…It’s a sad moment for me for it being the last time (playing at home) but at the same time I’m happy for them to see my play in person.”

— Tyson Alger

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